Woke for the morning watch at 0400 to a pleasant day with very light airs. It reminded me of the very first yacht race I was in. As an 11yo I crewed for my father on his 14ft Javelin class yacht at Parkdale yacht club in Melbourne. He seemed to be a whiz in light airs and often won in these conditions. His tactics were simply keep the boat moving ,even if you were a bit of the proper course ,never oversheet the sails , tack only if absolutely or to great advantage. A couple of other dinghy tactics such getting the weight to leeward and forward to reduce the wetted surface area ,and therefore resistance ,of the boat. I watched as we edged forward slowly and half the fleet went backwards . The race was shortened from 10 miles to 3 and we finished 1 miles of the only 2 other yachts to finish. Of course the cynical ones in the club said it was because he had a 6 stone kid on the boat instead of his normal crew.
So I find myself as watch leader on Sanya at 0400 this morning making sure the helms don’t oversteer, picking a course that keeps the wind in the sails and trimming the windseeker and main to the course and never oversheeting,as we try to keep our edge ahead of Qingdao.
And in addition I finally got to see the stars of both the Southern Cross and the “Pointers” and share my only knowledge of celestial navigation ; how to find South in the Southern Hemisphere.
And we had a whale surface near the yacht , I think a False Orca.
Morning watch under spinnaker with Qingdao’s lights of our port side a few miles away. Seemed to be holding them for the first part of our watch then they just seemed to get away. Seemed to just be on a faster angle or a different breeze. Still it’s amazing that after more than 5000 miles we should be so close to each other. All the rest of the fleet are more than a day’s sail behind.
Our afternoon watch saw several sail changes . First the code 2 went up. The breeze went light and tight so the code 2 comes down and windseeker goes up . The the wind goes further behind and the windseeker comes down and code 1 goes up. All these evolutions go very smoothly till the last moment. I go out to the bowsprit to move the tack of the spinnaker from the ‘peeling ‘ connection to the tack line proper. I do this and get the the cockpit to grind the tack line on. I spike the peeling tack and to my horror watch as the tack floats away in the breeze. Fortunately Seumas caught the tack at the stern of the yacht. Next thing I hear Seumas’ voice at the bow asking if I am still there and he hands me the tack to re connect it. Amazing how quickly he gets from one end of the yacht to the other. So we were fortunate to not lose too much time. Hard to know what happened maybe the spike hit both shackles rather than just the one I wanted .Qingdao pulled away again in a different but toward the end of the watch we started to make up ground. 9 miles behind with 160 odd miles to go so likely to arrive in Punta tomorrow afternoon, still could be anyone’s race.
This is a frustrating day of squalls intermingled with dead flat calm and mainly light winds. We are unable to make any ground on our rivals in Qingdao and finish a couple of hours behind them in 2nd place. To finish so close after 5600 miles was pretty amazing. Given we lead this race for over 4000 miles it is hrad to know how we finished 2nd but we would take that any day ,and a yacht race is never over . And we finish almost 2 days ahead of the yacht in 3rd. We will certainly enjoy our break and be ready cross back across the Southern Atlantic to Cape Town ,starting 23rd October